In recent years, hotels have come to define the increasingly desirable stretch of Midtown sandwiched between Madison Square Park and Herald Square. Scores of small chain hotels now dot 28th and 29th streets. Meanwhile, a select group of luxury accommodations have opened in the nabe, such as the Ace, Carlton and Gansevoort, owning the upper end of the market. But there is a new 273-room whale in town.
The baron of boutique, hotelier Ian Schrager premiered the New York Edition in the Metropolitan Life Tower at the corner of the Madison Square Park this May.
It’s the fourth outpost for Schrager’s Edition brand — other locations include London, Istanbul and Miami Beach — and, despite the tower’s stately pre-war façade, inside it’s the typical Schrager mash-up of ornate gestures and punk irreverence.
“It’s inspired by New York City’s turn-of-the-20th-century private clubs, Fifth Avenue’s Gilded Age mansions and Stanford White’s architectural masterpieces.” Schrager told the New York Times. “Guests come into a dark oak-paneled foyer, like an upscale New York apartment building in the 1920s. It’s a fusion of old and modern. We have this sculptural spiral staircase. We are still in this neutral palette of taupes, ivory and white. But this is probably the last time we’ll do a neutral palette.”
On the hotel’s second floor, hundreds of tasteful gold frames fill the wall space. But instead of Turner landscapes or impressionist whirlwinds, symbols of New York City’s counterculture fill the frames: images by Bob Gruen and Maripol, portraits of George Condo and Jasper Johns, and Manhattan streetscapes.
On the same floor, Michelin-starred British chef Jason Atherton has opened the Clocktower in the landmarked interior space that once served as MetLife’s executive offices. It’s a mix of city grit and turn-of-the-century splendor.
“We will have pops of color on seat cushions, and maybe an ornate Baroque mirror. We want to take a little bit of the decorative ornateness we have on the second floor and bring it down to the lobby, but still be simple,” Schrager told the Times prior to the opening, adding that “the whole idea is to have it feel like you are staying in the guest room of a private home, rather than a hotel room.”
From 1909 to 1913, the clock tower reigned as the tallest building in the world. Today, rooms boasting thick wood doors and matching headboards, especially at the top of the building’s gold-capped pinnacle provide rarely matched views.
Naturally, all of this buzz comes at a cost: Room prices range from $675 to $8,000 a night. And, while that may seem rather steep, rumor has it that on the 27th floor, secret doors in the guest rooms open to reveal the clockworks. For any diehard fan of NYC’s iconic buildings, staying in such a room would be a stroke of good luck indeed. —Christopher Cameron